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15-17 OCT
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Social Value in Action.
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Guy Battle

The Social Value Advantage: Why positive impact is non-negotiable for NHS suppliers

Drawing on his experience of working with public sector buyers and their suppliers, Guy Battle, CEO of Social Value Portal, offers advice on how to successfully leverage Social Value when bidding for new contracts.


The UK’s National Health Service is estimated to spend about £8 billion annually on procurement of products alone. As would be expected, much of the focus when bidding for new contracts is on cost. But there is another major consideration to make – Social Value. 

With NHS England now required to give a 10% minimum weighting to Social Value in all procurements, understanding the whats and whys can be pivotal to winning new contracts.

For suppliers, such a major organisation mandating Social Value presents huge opportunities but also intense competition. To stand out, it’s essential to go beyond the basics of compliance and pricing by demonstrating a deep commitment to Social Value. 

Social Value explained – and why it matters

Social Value refers to the economic, social and environmental benefits that organisations bring to the communities they serve. In the context of the NHS, embedding mandatory Social Value into the supply chain is seen as absolutely key to achieving thriving and therefore healthier communities.

This means suppliers to the NHS need to evolve, incorporating Social Value into their core strategies, if they are to be successful. This evolution is not only beneficial for community development but also enhances business performance by fostering stronger stakeholder relationships and improving brand reputation.

In essence, suppliers who can demonstrate their positive contribution to society are more likely to be favoured in the procurement process.

Measuring and reporting Social Value

To effectively compete, suppliers need to be able to demonstrate their Social Value transparently. The nationally recognised Social Value TOM System (Themes, Outcomes and Measures) helps organisations to work out the value of their initiatives in financial terms that buyers and other stakeholders will relate to. 

For instance, we calculate that employing someone who is long-term unemployed is worth around £51,561 in Social Value, 50 volunteering hours donated is around £874 and removing one tonne of carbon emissions is the equivalent of £252.11 – all of which can be justifiably reported in an NHS tender submission. 

By incorporating such quantifiable metrics into bids, suppliers can clearly illustrate the tangible benefits they bring.

Strategies for success

To effectively integrate Social Value at every level, organisations must make it a core aspect of the overall business model. This approach ensures that the entire organisation is committed to the delivery of Social Value. 

When it comes to a winning bid, showing a thorough understanding of the NHS procurer’s Social Value priorities and tailoring the bid to address these needs is what will prove most fruitful.

A detailed delivery plan should identify:

  • The responsible parties
  • Processes for capturing data
  • Methods for reporting outcomes

My advice would be to conduct a Local Needs Analysis at the outset, as this will help tailor your initiatives to the individual needs of the community being served by the NHS contract.

Going the extra mile

Providing evidence and case studies will build confidence in your ability to deliver Social Value. Showcasing a strong track record of previous successes, team expertise, and the positive impacts of your initiatives will reinforce your credibility.

It may be obvious to many, but maintaining professionalism and innovation in a bid is paramount. Presenting a polished, error-free document that includes compelling visuals and testimonials strengthens any proposal.

Additionally, offering innovative solutions that exceed core requirements can earn extra points in the evaluation process, further enhancing your proposal’s attractiveness.

Tip: NHS London makes Social Value procurement a priority

NHS London Procurement Partnership (NHS LPP) has emerged as a leader in the healthcare sector in incorporating Social Value into its procurement practices. It has created a comprehensive toolkit specifically designed for the NHS in London, which includes resources, processes, and training modules to ensure consistent application and empower members to maximise the social impact of their supply chain.

A key aspect of NHS LPP's approach is clear communication of Social Value targets and priorities. In fact, they partnered with Social Value Portal to develop a tailored set of Measures from the widely recognised TOM System. This transparent methodology enables consistent planning and measurement across projects, thus saving time and money for the many trusts and ICB’s whose procurement it manages.

The NHS presents a massive opportunity for suppliers

As the NHS continues to prioritise Social Value in its procurement processes, suppliers must adapt to remain competitive. By integrating Social Value into their core operations, understanding NHS priorities and presenting clear, measurable benefits, suppliers can not only win more work but also contribute to a healthier, more sustainable future for all. 

The NHS is one of the country’s biggest procurers, so the opportunities are huge. Social Value is no longer an optional add-on – it’s a critical component of a successful, future-proofed business strategy

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About Social Value Portal

Since 2017 Social Value Portal has been at the forefront of the Social Value movement. As creators of the endorsed Social Value TOM SystemTM, hosts of the annual Social Value Conference and founding members of the independent National Social Value Taskforce – they set industry standards and lead the business agenda.

Their unique mix of consultancy, cloud platform and programmes offer organisations the complete solution to accurately measure, manage and report Social Value – and create lasting impact.

In 2022, SVP achieved B Corp status, scoring above average in all assessed. The company’s aim is to promote better business and community wellbeing through the integration of Social Value into day-to-day business activity across all sectors.

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